The Graying of the Green?

by Holly Highlife

At a recent party, I ran into a woman I consider the “pillar of the community” type. She’s in her late 60’s, active in the arts and

non-profits and is part of the well-heeled fabric of Fort Collins.

When I asked her what was new, she told me she’d just gotten her MMJ license for arthritis and was “thrilled” with the results.  After recovering my jaw from the floor, I told her how happy I was for her. And I am. No one should have to wrestle with chronic pain while risking a dependency on opiate painkillers.

This made me wonder, how has the average medical license holder changed?

When medical “red cards” (now purple) first became available in 2008, an astounding number of men in their twenties were on the registry for “pain” issues, and the vast majority of people entering dispensaries fit that description.

Today, the average medical license holder is 42, and one-third of all cardholders are women. It’s a fact that as we age, more aches and pains arise.

“You see all the best people at the dispensary,” says Mike a successful businessman in his 40’s. He uses medical cannabis to control the pain from several orthopedic surgeries. “It’s very ironic, as I was totally against this a few years ago.”

“Everyone has their own reasons, and their own methods for using cannabis,” says Organic Alternatives owner Steve Ackerman. Noting the medication can be inhaled, vaporized, used in tinctures, salves or in edible form. “It’s an amazing medication in that way.”

He remembers opening the store one morning recently. “I had fifteen people at the front counter and they were all over the age of 60.” Currently 5,250 individuals hold medical cards in Larimer County or 5.6 percent of cardholders in the state.  He guesses his average customer is 40.

After the passage of Amendment 64, many are leaving the registry, or want no part of it. “A lot of people do not want to be on the registry. Whether it I because of a job issue, or they just have issues of trust.”

David, 53, never considered joining the medical registry. He used to acquire his medication for diabetic neuropathy from unreliable and sometimes sketchy sources.  “The quality sucked.” Retail cannabis has provided him a way of legally purchasing a product tested for contaminants.

“People used to have no idea what had been done to what they were smoking. Whether it had been treated with pesticides, mold, insects, or other contaminants,” notes Ackerman. “Now anyone over the age of 21 is able to purchase a product they know is organic and free of contaminants.

And taxes from retail cannabis sales are on the rise, bringing in $13.7 million in the first five months of 2015. This exceeded the total amount collected in 2014, according to the Denver Post. Colorado public schools will receive $14 million this year in funds raised by cannabis sales.

Who knows? You could even see me on your next trip to the dispensary. I’ll be that average looking, middle-aged woman buying edibles or contemplating a new vape.

Note: The names in this article have been changed for reasons of privacy.

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